Canada’s deadly heat wave has impacted over 100 British Columbia farmers

By Jessica Yellin, CNN • Updated 5th September 2018

(CNN) — The brutal heat wave that’s pummeled British Columbia, Canada and left many ranchers searching for their herds, has also left ranchers with more than just a tough slog through the wilderness.

After being hit by floods, farmers are suffering from the effects of relentless heat that have reached to 102 degrees and higher, according to the BC Cattlemen’s Association.

It has also left ranchers hoping to reach the smallest the animals will develop, but also struggling to determine what is safe, even if that means leaving the animals unattended for the foreseeable future.

The problem has been worsened by the sudden loss of significant numbers of animals, causing ranchers to fear that their herds will never recover.

“It’s at a point in time where most farmers and ranchers around the province have been systematically removed from their herds,” the BC Cattlemen’s Association said in a statement.

“At least eight men lost their own livestock or were stuck in the wilderness while saving or finding their livestock. And there is nowhere to go, not on a ranch, not in a trailer, not with water bottles. It’s there that people rely on to get out and look for animals in the wilderness.”

While it’s too early to tell how long some of these ranchers will be out of work, the root causes for the unexpected loss have set off a chain reaction.

“Farmer after farmer is finding it hard to find pasture,” said Brittany Winkle, an advocate for ranch safety and the director of the organization RanchSafe Canada.

“Very little pasture has been untouched by a newly flooded creek or a newly scorched highway. Even areas that didn’t experience major floods are still hard to access because of the extreme heat. The worst affected ranch with 400 head of cattle is still looking for grass for the animals because their ranch, like many of the others, is on an island with no access road.”

Ranchers also need to contend with the muddy, dirty water that spills from dried out creeks and washouts. Some ranchers told CNN that they hadn’t come close to finding a decent amount of water since the floods — another factor that has made it difficult to check the condition of their animals.

Others are waiting for a rainstorm or more snow to fill dams so they can pump enough water out to give animals enough to drink. “The secondary human impact is there are very little healthy grazing areas. The pasture is already being strained,” Winkle said.

The Canadian government is trying to help, and on Wednesday Canada’s Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay said his office will be sending Alberta ranchers five new trucks as a disaster relief package. “This is one of the most difficult events I’ve been involved with and this is a very, very serious situation,” he said.

Winkle is preparing a report on the devastating impact this weather may have had on Ontario and Quebec ranchers, who are also suffering from catastrophic flooding, and she plans to send it to the Canadian government in early October. “It needs to be addressed in a timely fashion,” she said.

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